Remember when the encyclopedias on your living room shelf held the answers to everything?
Now we have Wikipedia, the crowd-sourced online encyclopedia as accurate as those volumes on the shelf.
We have the Internet with websites for everything under the sun -- not to mention the 2,000,000 million blog posts per day (and then there are all of the infographics, ebooks, pins on Pinterest, videos on YouTube, Facebook updates, Instagram, and someone probably invented a new something as I typed this).
In the office, we have crucial business information spread throughout our offices in paper files stored in filing cabinets or lost on a co-worker’s desk somewhere, in email, in shared drives, in online storage (Dropbox, GoogleDrive), and (if we’re smart) in document management repositories.
I could cite stats for months, but you get the point, information is everywhere and we are drowning in it.
How do you handle this information overload?
In the past, I’ve written about digital transformation and how useful document management can be because paper slows businesses down.
Today, I want to jumpstart your thinking about what to look for when you’re looking for a solution to cut through the mess of information overload for your business.
1. Reduce or eliminate paper. Recent research from Canon shows some companies are actually printing MORE than they did in previous years. Paper isn’t going to go completely away (at least in the next few decades) so businesses need to think of making themselves a “less-paper” office.
When you reduce your reliance on paper, you lessen the chance you’ll lose documents (provided you have a solid data backup plan). You also save money and boost productivity by reducing storage costs and making documents easier to find.
2. One of the easiest ways to think about moving to a digital environment is to think about digital storage as an electronic filing cabinet. You wouldn’t just shove your paper files into whichever filing cabinet was closest -- you have categorization methodology for those files.
Similarly, you can’t simply “go digital” by scanning paper documents and/or creating and using only electronic documents. You need a plan to categorize documents and store them in a central “location” so you can find and use them later. Creating digital files and then storing them where convenient -- your hard drive, a shared drive, a personal online cloud service, etc. -- means you create a digital “junk drawer” of documents, which eliminates the benefits of moving to a less-paper office.
3. Automate your manual processes. Once your business documents are digital, it’s time to automate your manual workflow processes with process automation. Consider the best way to move documents through your office for decision-making and sign-off -- don’t simply automate an existing process. Integration of processes and documents even allows you to launch a process from your copier.
4. Never stop analyzing and improving. Once you accomplish the three above steps, you’re not finished. Smart businesses continually look for opportunities to improve their processes. Data can be collected from your process automation efforts and analyzed to help remove bottlenecks and identify other areas of the business which could benefit from automation.
Document management and process automation tools will enable this transformation of your business from paper-based to a digital workplace. We rely on Laserfiche to help our customers move from a reliance on paper to a digital environment (there are other software providers who provide similar tools too).
One thing we’ve learned over the years is this: it’s often difficult for businesses to step back and take an honest look at their workflows and processes (even if they have the time to do so).
A third-party can bring an unbiased eye and opinion to the paper environment and processes that are “just the way we do things.” If you’re ready to move from an over-reliance on paper into the 21st century, we can help.